DERRY — An old fountain will get a new historic life in a local park.
Derry Village Rotary Club members installed a refurbished cast iron water fountain in MacGregor Park last weekend, planting the restored structure on a grassy spot near Derry Public Library.
The fountain is flowing with deep history and roots in town.
This year marks the 300th anniversary of the original Nutfield settlement, when a group of 16 Scottish-Irish families came to the new world, led by the Rev. James MacGregor. MacGregor's roots are connected to the fountain.
The fountain once stood sturdy in downtown Derry, near what is now Sabatino's restaurant, cooling the thirst of passing horses, dogs and even citizens. It dates back to when Derry's unpaved streets were dusty, horses were pulling wagons and carriages and both humans and their animals needed to often stop for that cool drink.
It stood there for decades until Thanksgiving night in 1954 when a local apple orchard truck knocked the fountain down. It eventually ended up being taken from a local trash pile and then became a focal point in the yard of Richard and Pauline MacGregor on Bypass 28.
Richard MacGregor died in 2014 and was an eighth generation descendant of that first settler who preached his first new world sermon in East Derry in April 1719. After his death, his widow Pauline said it was time to turn the fountain over after deciding to sell her home.
Derry Village Rotarians took on the project of cleaning, sandblasting and bringing the fountain back to life.
The Derry fountain was forged by the Concord Foundry and cost $112.60 around the turn of the 20th century. It could weigh nearly 2,000 pounds.
Resident Mark Brassard presented the fountain's life story at a Town Council meeting last December calling the project "Operation MacGregor" and said restoring the historic water bubbler is not only a part of Derry's past, but also a testament to the community as it moves forward.
Seeing it now placed in the park bearing the founding settler's family name makes the story all the more special.
"A piece of Derry's history comes back to hits rightful spot," Brassard said during the recent installation.
Rotarian Charlie Crompton said there are other communities discovering similar fountains. After learning of Derry's fountain, many are taking a big interest in the historical structures.
"There is a sudden interest in these fountains," Crompton said. "A lot of people will visit this fountain."
Crompton said the club is thankful to those who have supported the project, including East Coast Lumber and Interstate Landscape, both donating materials and services to help get the fountain ready and in the ground.
The fountain is protected and covered but will be officially unveiled and dedicated at a ceremony in the park on April 14 at 4 p.m.